SmartThings Community

Zigbee Repeater

So I’m trying to figure out how to extend my zigbee mesh. I am going with zigbee because my main devices are a few Hue Bulbs and 3 Iris Door sensors. I also have a Zigbee outlet. I first got the door sensors but had issues with range on a disconnected garage structure. I initially got the Hue bulb thinking if it was left always powered on it could help me extend my mesh to make a door sensor work consistently. The bulb was literally 1 -2 feet away from the sensor on opposite sides of the garage exterior wall. I saw no improvement and the sensor was very frequently disconnected despite the bulb still having a connection. Based on this thread, it sounds like using a Hue bulb (or any bulb) is very hit or miss, even if its connected directly to the ST hub. This would have been the easiest solution since a need for lightbulbs exists everywhere and the Hue A9 white is pretty cheap.

I have searched for the old smart things motion sensor but it seems very difficult to find and when it is listed, it seems to have a drastically inflated price. I just don’t understand how a good range extender doesn’t exist for this protocol.

In the past year has there been any new products that can fill this role that somebody can add to this
discussion?

Thanks

Pretty much all mains powered ZigBee devices act as repeaters. They include outlets, plugs, switches, bulbs (only exception I know of is Sengled bulbs).

Bulbs in general have been known to be the poorest repeaters. Also, if you are using a Hue bulb as a repeater, it must be connected directly to SmartThings and not the Hue Bridge as the Hue Bridge network and SmartThings Hub network are separate. A note on the Hue bulbs, they have issues if you need to reset them when directly connected to SmartThings.

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Are you in the US or the UK? The device selection is quite different.

And are your Hue bulbs connected to Hue bridge? Or directly to SmartThings?

If you are using a Hue bridge, that forms its own mini network and it doesn’t matter what protocol the bulbs are on–they will only repeat for each other and won’t interact with any of your other devices.

Since you said you were using iris door sensors, I’m going to assume that you’re in the US. In that case, a good zigbee repeater is the iris smart plug that works with SmartThings. That will be the second generation, model 3210-L. This is very popular in the community, and is a good reliable zigbee repeater. It’s also a very unusual device in that it has two radios, and also operates as a Z wave repeater. This is one of the reasons for its popularity.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Iris-Iris-120-Volt-White-Smart-Plug/999925330

The securifi peanut plug is typically sold under $25, and sometimes even right around 20. It should work fine.

GE makes both a Z wave and a zigbee version of their pocket socket. Z wave model repeat for Z wave and zigbee model will repeat for zigbee. They look identical, so read the box is carefully to make sure you’re getting the one you want. These were usually sell for between 30 and $40, although sometimes they will be on sale for less. This is just a good standard basic pocket socket.

And of course as of this writing many places have both versions of the SmartThings plug on sale for Black Friday. Either should work fine as a zigbee repeater and with the sales these may be down in the same price range as the iris or even the peanut.

Architectural Issues

All of that said, the problem may be that exterior wall. Exterior walls often have architectural materials which significantly block signal. Sometimes you have to get really tricky to get signal past them. It’s not just a matter of distance.

There are a couple of Threads in the forum on dealing with these kinds of issues, have you had a chance to look at those? It may be more a matter of placement than the specific device .

The following thread is sort of a round up topic and has links to several of the other threads that discuss different approaches. It’s a common challenge for standalone garages. Although the question being asked is about the wave, the same types of placement solutions will apply for Zigbee. There’s usually a way, but you may have to try several different approaches to get one that works for you.

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Yeah, I am in the US. My Hue Bulbs are connected directly to the ST hub with no Hue Bridge. Unfortunately I have not yet found success in getting them to act as repeaters for my sensors. though, I have been thinking of trying to find a way to test to confirm they are in fact not acting as such via the suggested method of lining up some zigbee devices, including the bulbs and seeing if disconnecting one breaks the chain. Though it will be difficult to know just how far to place them to make a true test. I understand somewhere in the 10-20 m range is the average range though, so I’ll start with that.

Also, thanks for the note on the Singled bulbs not working as repeaters, I just saw them on the ST site for super cheap and was considering trying one out though if I know for sure they won’t work, it’s probably not worth saving $5 over the hue bulbs.

It seems GE makes a zigbee paddle smart switch but not a toggle switch for some reason (only an add-on toggle switch which is compatible with zigbee, which I don’t understand), But toggle is the design used throughout my home, so I guess I’ll have to settle and get some outlets/plugs and hope I can find some electronic devices to make use of them. Thanks for the tip on the newer version of the Iris plug. I don’t know that I’ll ever adopt z-wave but I like the dual compatibility. Still, it’s on the pricier side - I may wait to see if I can find some good deals this upcoming week or even until a better option comes to market. I lost the darn counter magnet on that garage contact sensor anyway so its just a temp sensor until I get that figured out since Iris doesn’t sell just the counter magnet. :frowning:

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I know this post is 5 months old now but it needs some clarification for anyone researching smart homes. When I first set mine up I wasn’t aware that I would end up with a mix of Zigbee and Z-wave devices. I was wanting all Z-wave to avoid 2.4GHz interference with my wireless network. But most bulbs are Zigbee so that’s what I have. I read multiple times that “any AC powered device (outlets, plugs, switches, bulbs) will be a repeater while battery powered devices will not.” Unfortunately that is not 100% true. No criticism of previous posters here–just an observation based on newer information.

Many Zigbee LED bulbs are NOT repeaters and those that are have not been found to be good at repeating/extending mesh range. For example, as mentioned above, Sengled Element bulbs have become popular due to low price and good quality but they are not repeaters. On their company website they specifically state that they designed the Element bulbs to be end-point, not repeaters, because they typically go into a switched lamp or fixture that can be turned off, disrupting the mesh network. The Sylvania 73850 is supposed to be a repeater but lacks a decent antenna so the signal will not penetrate very far. Also, bulbs may lack enough capacity to avoid becoming flooded with signals, creating mesh problems.

Always confirm that any Zigbee device is a repeater/extender and read reviews to confirm that it does this well. Plugs, wired outlets, and wired switches seem to be the best options and many bulbs are inferior. But even with plugs/outlets/switches, the cheapest ones may not include repeating capability. Good luck with your smart home endeavors!

Came across your post and wondered if you found a solution. I also have a metal clad house and detached garage also with metal siding. Metal siding is not the friend of smart home technology. Getting Z-wave into the garage was a challenge. My solution isn’t ideal but it does work. I have a window on my garage door and also one on the house from which the garage door is visible. I have a Z-wave Plus device (Inovelli plug) in the window sill and another mounted in the garage, direct line of sight to the one in the house window. This successfully extended my Z-wave network into the garage where it can reliably control devices inside the garage. So if you have a way to set up a repeater near a window, you may find success. Keep in mind that you can have a maximum of five “hops” for Z-wave.

I have a Zigbee based door sensor made by Visonic. One of the sensor is far away from the hub. It drains through battery rather quickly. I was wondering if the distance cause the sensor to draw more power. So I added a GE Zigbee smart switch in between. My understanding is the Smart Switch is always on and therefore should act as a repeater.

But after a couple months, I need to replace my CR-2032 battery again. Is my assumption that repeater can save battery wrong?